Technology has revolutionized people's lives in every way over the past decades, and life on campus is no exception. One noticeable change is that Korean universities are making it harder for students to skip class by installing electronic systems to check attendance. The systems have their roots in the multi-function electronic student ID cards which double as debit and library cards that began appearing on campuses in the 1990s.
Around 2000 many universities such as Yonsei began to install terminals in lecture rooms that use student cards to check attendance. Kyunghee University currently boasts one of the most sophisticated computer systems in the country. In 2006 it introduced its so-called "U-Class System," which facilitates interactive checks of students' identification for lecturers. When students insert their ID cards in terminals installed in lecture rooms, their personal information is sent to the lecturer's computer screen in real-time. By clicking a student's photo onscreen, the lecturer can access the student's number, attendance status, and participation rate.
"I check attendance by comparing the photo onscreen with the face of the student sitting in class," a professor at Kyunghee University said. "Thanks to the electronic system, I can memorize the names and faces of almost all my students by the first week." Park Se-hwan of the university's public relations office said, "We have finished installing the U-Class System in 10 out of 37 classrooms with over 100 seats. We plan to add two more by the first semester of next year."
According to research by the Chosun Ilbo on 20 major universities in Seoul, 11 universities -- Catholic, Ewha Womans', Hanyang, Konkuk, Kookmin, Korea, Kyunghee, Myongji, Sookmyung Women's, Sungkyunkwan, and Yonsei -- have introduced similar systems and are expanding them.
Students can update their photos at any time via their university Web sites, but problems can still occur. "Sometimes there are funny arguments because some students forget to update their photos after getting plastic surgery," a student said.